2 Apr 2014

Clutch of schools dominate Scholarship

9:51 am on 2 April 2014

A handful of schools are increasingly dominating Scholarship exams - and most of those schools are in Auckland, new figures show.

The Qualifications Authority statistics show the same eight schools have topped the exams for two years running but last year increased their share of the awards from one in five to one in four.

Of the eight schools, only Wellington College and Burnside High School in Christchurch are from outside Auckland. The Auckland schools are Auckland and Mount Albert grammar schools, Westlake Boys' High School and Macleans, Rangitoto and St Cuthbert's colleges.

Last year, 256 schools averaged 13 scholarship awards each but the eight schools walked away with between 81 and 178 awards each, and together accounted for 26 percent of the Scholarships.

Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) principals' council president Alan Vester said the results showed schools were becoming increasingly polarised and could fuel parents' fears.

"There's a concern from parents if they don't get their students into one of those schools, then in fact in some ways they're not giving them the very best opportunity. And that's a concern. Really the mantra should be every school's a great school."

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Photo: 123RF

Bigger schools, more resources

The schools which did well in Scholarship tended to have enough students and resources to run special classes for their Scholarship candidates, Mr Vester said.

The results also showed a growing polarisation between schools.

"We've seen that with the number of students in the different decile-ranged schools - the decrease (top results in) in the lower decile and the increase in the number in the higher decile schools," he said.

Wellington College had the most awards in each of the past three years but headmaster Roger Moses questioned whether the results indicated a disparity.

"It may do that but I think that there's a disparity clearly between some schools of similar sizes, some schools which perhaps have a more of a specific emphasis on Scholarship and others that don't."

Many schools were focused on Education Review Office and government priorities, such as increasing achievement of level two of the National Certificate of Educational Achievement, rather than on Scholarship, Mr Moses said.

Secondary Principals Association president Tom Parsons said the results were a good thing.

"The schools that concentrate on Scholarship passes, be that for advertising or marketing or extending the top tier of students, it's great to see and it's great to see that those schools that are putting the time, the money, the resourcing and the effort into it, are getting better at it," he said.